In praise of berries

John Latta’s lovely ode to the quince made me stop this morning and think about my breakfast: yogurt and homemade rhubarb strawberry crisp with Hood strawberries, meltingly sweet and only available in June. Oregonians wait in anticipation for them and then celebrate when they arrive. Signs at farmers markets and grocery stores all over Portland announce: the Hoods are here! I bought mine. The ones I planted this spring in my garden haven’t quite ripened yet, or the slugs and birds got them first (also, they are notoriously hard to grow).

And, because I can’t avoid exploring a word origin, I learn from Douglas Harper’s incredible online etymology dictionary that “berry” and “apple” are the only native English fruit names. “Strawberry” is of unknown origin, but its Old English cognate was eorðberge, “earth berry,” which makes sense, growing as they do so close to the soil.

So, as the Solstice approaches, and in homage to Dominique Browning’s philosophy of Slow Love, here’s a moment of love for the gifts of June.

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